Successful Personal Statement For Psychology At Oxford

Read through a successful Psychology Personal Statement for Oxford with a full analysis by Oxbridge Tutors. Find out why the Personal Statement helped the candidate to receive an Oxford offer.

Author: Rob Needleman

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Table of Contents

Welcome to our popular Personal Statement series where we present a successful Personal Statement, and our Oxbridge Tutors provide their feedback on it. 

Today, we are looking through a Psychology applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Oxford University. The Psychology Course at Oxford is a scientific discipline, involving the rigorous formulation and testing of ideas. It works through experiments and systematic observation rather than introspection.

Read on to see how this candidate demonstrates their academic interests and initiative.   

Here’s a breakdown of the Personal Statement (the applicant uses most of the 4,000 characters available):

CHARACTERS

3,999

WORDS

612

SUCCESSFUL?

5/5

The universities this candidate applied to were the following:

OXFORD

OFFER

DURHAM

OFFER

EXETER

OFFER

WARWICK

OFFER

ST ANDREWS

OFFER

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Psychology Personal Statement

How does the mind work? The mind is a mystery housed within the most complex mechanism known to man: the human brain. My innate curiosity compels me to find out more about such a mystery through the study of Psychology.

I have long been interested in how our minds differ: for example, why have I always been a strong mathematician while my brother finds it challenging? Being a musician, I found Kathryn Vaughn’s research supporting a correlation between musical and mathematical abilities particularly thought provoking, while I have also wondered whether my childhood obsession with jigsaws helped me develop problem-solving skills, which are particularly relevant in Geometry: the area with the biggest rift in our abilities. Ann Dowker’s argument, in ‘Individual Differences’, that educational methods influence such differences was also particularly compelling. Therefore, in my gap year, whilst helping struggling learners in KS3 Mathematics at a local school, and, when I help educate children in Tanzania as an International Citizen Service volunteer with the VSO charity, I will evaluate the success of different educational methods. This will give me experience of carrying out my own research, and, will develop skills such as empathy, which is important in the more sensitive areas of Psychology. Furthermore, I recently assisted a University of Oxford researcher conducting follow-up assessments with children in local primary schools. These measured reading-age, language comprehension and numeracy level, and are used to gauge and refine the Catch-Up charity’s numeracy intervention programme. As some of the children being assessed were from a control group, my involvement also enlightened me to ethical aspects of research.

Differences that occur in the criminal mind are also of great interest to me. As an elected Student Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau earlier this year, where I learnt about Rudolf Hoess. Hoess exterminated thousands of families, yet lived with his own family just outside the camp. This ignited an interest in complex behaviour; therefore I read Stanley Milgram’s research into whether ‘the Germans are different’, and learnt about his Theory of Obedience. This developed an interest in Forensic Psychology, and I subsequently attended a Forensics course at Nottingham University, where I learnt about a Forensic Psychologist’s role, during Mental Health tribunals, for example.

Deterioration of the mind, and methods to counteract this, also interest me. Reading the Psychologist has given me an insight into how the effectiveness of such methods could be analysed using a high-resolution 3D brain atlas; while a presentation from Claire Rytina enlightened me to useful cognitive treatment designed to rebuild and retrieve memory following her Viral Encephalitis. I have also voluntarily worked at a Nursing Home with some Dementia sufferers, and noticed that many sufferers enjoyed me playing music from their past, and sometimes, this triggered some of their memories. This made me wonder whether the music stimulated neurones which had lain dormant for years, similarly to when neurones are used for the first time, as Hubel and Weisel’s nature/nurture research has shown. Studying this in A level Biology gave me an interest in neuroscience, while Biology also stressed the importance of controls and fair tests, which are invaluable during Psychology experiments too. My mathematical skills in statistics will also be beneficial when analysing empirical evidence; and, the deep level of analysis and evaluation used for varying sources in A level History will be useful when studying case studies, while my essay techniques will help me when writing reports, and when considering issues from different perspectives.

Overall, I feel that my broad interests and skills will enable me to thrive as a Psychology student at a demanding University, where I would also make a positive contribution to University life.

For more inspiration, take a look through our other successful Personal Statement analysis articles:

Good Points Of The Personal Statement

This statement is powered by a broad range of academic interests — all of which the candidate has explored to a deep and commendable level. They are able to articulate how these interests came about, why they are important and how they intersect. In so doing, the candidate clearly demonstrates their ability to think independently, undertake independent projects and foster a wide-ranging curiosity. Furthermore, they clearly illustrate how their academic interests have had a bearing on their actions outside of the classroom; activities that require a substantial amount of initiative and endeavour.

Bad Points Of The Personal Statement

While the consideration of a range of different areas of psychology is illustrative of a consistently curious individual, this statement would have benefited from greater cohesion as an overall piece. The candidate could have also found a less rhetorical way of opening their statement; their tone at this point is not a mode of speech that they return to elsewhere, and as such, it seems somewhat like a non-sequitur. Their prose thereafter is much more engaging, and it seems unfulfilling and irrelevant to include such mystifying text at the start.

UniAdmissions Overall Score:

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This candidate maturely presents their academic interests and particular areas of personal pursuit. As a result of this, they are able to demonstrate moments at which they have taken impressive amounts of initiative, and have really gone out of their way in order to experience their academic interests outside of the classroom. They are thereby able to fashion themselves as a curious, energetic, academic individual, who is able to think independently and develop their own work. There are potential areas for stylistic improvement within the statement, but they do not hinder the overall impression given of a capable and committed candidate.

This Personal Statement for Psychology is a great example of demonstrating academic interest and initiative. The candidate’s interest and passion are clearly shown which is vital to Admissions Tutors.

Remember, at Oxford, these Admissions Tutors are often the people who will be teaching you for the next few years, so you need to appeal directly to them.

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